- the neighborhood over which a street gang asserts its authority.
- a familiar area, as of residence or expertise: Denver is her turf. When you talk literature you're getting into my turf.
- the track over which horse races are run.
- the practice or sport of racing horses.
Origin of turf
OTHER WORDS FROM turfturfless, adjectiveturflike, adjectivere·turf, verb (used with object)un·turfed, adjective
Words nearby turf
What does turf mean?
Turf is the top layer of a grassy area consisting of a kind of mat of grass and its roots. It’s the layer you could cut out and pull up in one piece.
Such pieces are in fact pulled up and used to form lawns. This is also called turf. A close synonym is sod. Artificial turf is a surface that’s supposed to resemble a grassy surface, such as is sometimes used on sports fields. A name for one kind of this is Astroturf.
Turf is also a term for the area that a gang claims as its exclusive territory. This sense of turf can also be used more casually to refer to a physical or figurative area that one claims as one’s own, such as an area of expertise, as in Advertising is my turf, so please stick to accounting. This use of the word turf is used in the phrases turf war and home turf.
Example: My cat claimed my dog’s bed as her turf, and the dog’s not happy about it.
Where does turf come from?
The first records of the word turf come from before the 900s. It’s related to the Old Norse torfa, the Old High German zurba, and the Sanskrit darbha, meaning “tuft of grass.”
Turf isn’t just grass, but grass is part of it. Together with dirt, the roots of all the grass growing in a field or pasture form a kind of thickly matted layer over the rest of the soil. This top layer is called turf. Sometimes, turf is grown like a crop, to be cut, rolled up, and planted in lawns or other places. This is also called sod.
The phrase the turf is sometimes used to refer to a horse racing track, or horse racing in general.
The first records of turf to refer to gang territory come from the 1900s, but similar senses were used earlier. This meaning has become extended to more casual use: saying something is your turf is the same as saying it’s your territory, meaning you have authority or expertise in it or some other claim to it. The phrase home turf refers to one’s usual surroundings, such as one’s neighborhood or hometown. It’s commonly used in sports to refer to a team’s “home” stadium, court, field, or other playing area—whether it’s covered in turf or not.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to turf?
- turfs (plural)
- turves (alternate plural sometimes used in British English)
- turfless (adjective)
- turflike (adjective)
- returf (verb)
- unturfed (verb)
What are some synonyms for turf?
What are some words that share a root or word element with turf?
What are some words that often get used in discussing turf?
How is turf used in real life?
When it refers to gang territory or it’s used in a similar way, turf is a slang term that’s typically used informally.
We love Dad's new bouncy turf and are doing our best to wreck it👍
It won't take us long. pic.twitter.com/a70Kb2yMVA
— Furzey & Thor⚡ (@FurzeyRetriever) May 10, 2020
Cracks me up when England fans get so dewy-eyed and swollen with pride about Euro 96, when they only made it to the semis on their home turf, then they laugh at Wales fans for banging on about reaching the semis of France 2016.
— Simon Price (@simon_price01) May 11, 2020
— Shawn Brown (@Pencilzord) May 8, 2020
Try using turf!
True or False?
When it’s used to refer to exclusive territory, tu,irf is always used in the context of gangs.
How to use turf in a sentence
By adapting Cash App to provide payroll services, Square is poised to muscle onto the turf of ADP and other HR giants.
These are struggles over ministerial appointments and over control of turf in the security landscape of Tripoli.
For the acorn woodpecker, turf wars aren’t just violent and potentially fatal—they’re a spectator sport.Blood, death, and eye gouging: welcome to the world of acorn woodpeckers|Kate Baggaley|September 9, 2020|Popular-Science
There’s a sort of turf war between Hong Kong and its sister bourses on the mainland.
The turf war is not limited to the subscription side of the industry.
New York—and Brooklyn in particular—was familiar turf for Brinsley.Alleged Cop Killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley Had a Death Wish|M.L. Nestel|December 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Trotter had fewer resources but he was playing on home turf.
There might be some opportunities on trade and tax policy, but those will exist about 75 percent on Republican turf.Inside the Democrats’ Godawful Midterm Election Wipeout|Michael Tomasky|November 5, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Democratic Party is defending more than a half-dozen seats on Republican-friendly turf.Dark Money Will Decide Which Party Controls the Senate|Center for Public Integrity|October 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Obama traveled to Tampa Wednesday to meet with Austin about the ISIS strategy on his own turf.Can Obama Keep His Generals in Check in the War Against ISIS?|Eli Lake, Josh Rogin|September 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But having chosen the Champs aux Capuchins, it was idle to expect that one stretch of turf would prove firmer than another.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
Round this stood a colony of roughly-built huts, of mud, turf, or large blocks of the slate.The Daisy Chain|Charlotte Yonge
In many respects like the Virginia planter, they differ somewhat in their taste in all that pertains to the turf and the field.
At the same time, it is a notorious fact that he has had heavy losses at cards and on the turf, which may account for everything.The Weight of the Crown|Fred M. White
The skull of a man grinned up at us, half sunk in the green turf, and the ends of ribs shewed how he to whom it had belonged lay.A Prince of Cornwall|Charles W. Whistler
British Dictionary definitions for turf
- a track, usually of grass or dirt, where horse races are run
- horse racing as a sport or industry